Renovations are more about the social implications, rather than the size.

Renovations are more about the social implications, rather than the size.

Kitchens of today are designed to fulfill a desire for human interaction. Rather than relying on a table and chairs as the gathering spot of the room, though, upgraded kitchens often feature cozy gathering spaces-a center island with an eye-catching granite top or a built-in bench that's easy to access. Often, a place to caucus with family and friends takes priority in a kitchen design.

Three Central Ohio families opened their updated kitchens to show what's been cooking in renovations all over town.

Simplicity Simmers in Bexley

Sheila Straub, one of the most successful real estate agents in Bexley, is never in a big hurry. She and her longtime husband, Ed, lived in their adorable Bexley abode for 11 years before they decided to update their sweet and cozy kitchen two years ago.

"We went for quality rather than quantity," says Sheila, regarding the Shaker-style cabinets lining the walls of the small kitchen. The classic crystal knobs adorning the cabinets hearken back to simpler times. She also chose white subway tile for the walls and white marble for the countertops.

The Straub kitchen-where notes scribbled on a small chalkboard urge guests to love life-is not awash in white, though. The ceiling is painted pale yellow, and the floor is a natural blue stone sourced from Lang Stone.

"There's 800 pounds of stone on the floor," says Sheila.

While she envisioned the kitchen's design, Ed wasn't merely a silent partner. Where a small kitchen table once sat tucked under a window, Ed suggested a built-in wooden bench with storage underneath. Although this addition means there isn't a table for meals, the inviting cubby is a popular seating spot when friends and family drop in. Meanwhile, a large and inviting dining room table is just one room away.

The Straub kitchen "unifies what we do," says Sheila. "It brings people together and is a joyous place to gather."

Sparkles Wow in Westgate

Westgate homeowner Stephen Fulton describes his small, well-designed kitchen as "blingy."

He is correct.

From the backsplash tile with its small silver squares that sparkle to the flashy chandelier adorning the nearby dining room, the space is inviting. The word "dine," which adorns a wall in the kitchen, nicely summarizes the atmosphere.

Fulton thought about guests when re-designing the space after buying the home 18 months ago. The fun kitchen is designed with entertaining in mind, something Fulton enjoys doing at every opportunity.

Within two weeks of buying the home ?in May 2015, Fulton says he was pulling up the floor. In just over a year, the entire house was gutted, remodeled and completed in time to be featured in the Westgate Home and Garden Tour last summer. And Fulton lived in the house while he and construction contractors toiled daily to get the job done.

Where a wall once separated the kitchen from what was the home's living room, now Fulton's dining space includes a bi-level, marble countertop ideal for entertaining. This homeowner loves that he and his guests can easily converse, whether they're sitting on the counter or around the dining room table. The entire space is so large now it can accommodate a whole party.

A Fantasy Island Gets Installed

When Kassie Pantelakis purchased her German Village condominium in 2012, it was an empty canvas that had been taken down to the studs. She likes to entertain, so she asked the builder to help her configure an open space both for cooking and interacting with guests.

What she didn't know at the time was that she would soon own, and adore, a 13-foot-long slab of exotic granite from Brazil that would serve as the centerpiece of the entire home. Whether it's the sheer size of the leather-finished granite or its rough edges that inject drama to the open-concept kitchen, Pantelakis calls it "a piece of art."

When Elizabeth Buchenroth, Pantelakis' wife of two years, moved in three years ago, the walls of the open room housing the kitchen, dining area and inviting couches were repainted white. Large, heavy industrial lighting was also installed over the island.

"I love the size of the island because it's the focal point of entertaining. The open floor plan allows us to be interactive with one another and our guests," she says.

Buchenroth is the cook, but the couple also welcomes friends to join in the food prep or even serve as guest chefs. With a kitchen like this one, it's easy to find cooks.

Despite the breathtaking beauty of the granite island, the surrounding area is still designed for cooking. "It's a working kitchen," says Pantelakis. The couple will soon replace their 4-year-old stove, as it's already showing signs of wear.

Tami Kamin Meyer is a Columbus attorney ?and writer.